iBecome More Mindful
What does it mean to be mindful? A simple answer is to be more in the moment, not stuck in regrets of the past or worries about the future. Being mindful helps you to be more aware. Many of us walk through life very unaware of what is happening right now within ourselves and around us. We get so consumed with our regrets of the past or worries about the future that we don’t stay here right now. We don’t notice what is happening in the world around us, nor do we recognize what is happening within us, in our lives or with our horses. Habits can become so automatic, becoming such a part of us, that we aren’t even aware that we have them. Even when we recognize the habits, beliefs and feelings we have, we often are unaware of the triggers that set them in motion.
Meditation, attention to breathe, journaling, walks in nature are a few ways owards living a more mindful life. Find something that brings you back to this moment. Whatever you do, remember, this is a practice that will get better with time, but it will never be perfect. That is why it is called a practice.
Be curious about riding and life. Always keep trying to understand why. Why did it work or why didn’t it? Ask what can I try differently and give it a try. Mistakes will happen but you will learn and grow.⠀⠀⠀
A curious mind will again help you discover what is going on. Keep your mind curious and opened to looking for causes for what is really happening with both you and your horse. A sense of curiosity makes riding so much more fun and you will retain more of what you have learned because you learned it through self-discovery and analysis. A curious mindset makes life more interesting! So when you are riding don’t look for all the answers to be given to you. Start asking why, how, what, when and where. Grow your curiosity!
Change is hard but staying stuck is even harder. In order to improve your life you need to not be afraid to change old habits and situations. But you should do them after good reflection on what you are doing and why. Keep looking to learn and discover new ways and find out what works the best for you and your life. Don’t be afraid to try a different path. Don’t be afraid to try new things even if they don’t work. If something doesn’t work try something new until you find what does work. Stay positive in everything you do and don’t leave a trail of negativity behind you. Maintain your integrity. Don’t let the tough times make you run and hide. It is okay to sit for a while and lick your wounds but then it is time to move forward and get on with things. Learn from the tough times and failures and grow. Change is a wonderful thing! You will be rewarded for your efforts!
Focus on What is Working First
Research in neuroscience has shown that there is a negative bias that is hardwired into our brains from the days when our ancestors had to look for danger around every turn in order to survive. It serves us well, even now, to remember negative experiences, such as touching a hot stove, in order for us not to repeat the same thing again. Not only are we hardwired to look for danger, negative experiences stick with us more than positive ones. It also take less time for negative experiences to stick.
Most often though, we don’t need to use this negative bias like our ancestors did. You can replace your negative bias with a more positive outlook. This needs to be a conscious effort and you need to allow time for a positive perspective soak in so that you will appreciate and remember it. Look for what is going well and focus on that instead of what is not working. Pay close attention. What does it feel like? What benefits did you receive? What positive outcomes occurred? Remember, the brain needs time for a positive experience to stick and we are not wired to focus on positive experiences. So taking this time in necessary in order build on what is working and thoughtfully learn from what isn’t.
Research at Stanford University has shown that when you multitask you become less productive and you make more mistakes. In fact, you aren’t really multi-tasking, you are shifting focus back and forth between tasks. So it is important to prioritize what needs to be worked on and do the most important thing first and then when that is done, work on the next. This can be useful in all aspects of your life. In riding particularly it is so easy to try and fix and work on too many things at once. This leads to frustration as you don’t end up doing anything very well. So when you want to work on changing your riding position or technique or changing something in your horse’s training pick the most important foundational thing first. Work on that until it becomes automatic. Then work on the next most important thing. If you are a trainer keep this in mind when working with a rider. Don’t throw too many things at them to fix at once. Remember, keep it simple! Consider how you can apply this to all parts of your life.
Grow Your Resilience “Grit”
Think of a time when life dealt you a blow and you felt that the path to your passion and success was fully blocked. You could see no way around the roadblock and the attainment of your goal seemed impossible. What did you do? Did you stay stuck in your misery and fears, did you give up on your goal and passion or dig down deep and find your “grit” in order to pave a new path to your desired goal and the ultimate success of living your life’s passion and purpose?
Someone who has found their grit does not give up when life’s challenges get in the way. They may have moments of feeling helpless and down. But they have the tools to shift their perspective and find ways to face their fears and surmount the obstacles in their path. They use their, fears and challenges as life lessons and self-growth opportunities. They also understand that the rewards to their efforts are usually not instantaneous and that it takes long term determination to achieve whatever it is they want.
Remember the rough times you have experienced and how you felt. What did you do to work through your troubles and how long you did stay stuck in your troubles before you found a new path? What did you learn from your experience and what was it in you that helped you move forward? Even if you stayed mired in your troubles, with your feet stuck to the ground for a very long time, you did eventually move forward? What did you do to make that happen? Whatever you did came from your grit. Maybe it wasn’t a big move forward, but it was a move forward. Focus on that spark of strength and grit. Then grow it.
Don’t be discouraged if you feel stuck again in your life. That happens to everyone, grit or not. Having grit does not prevent you from getting stuck, failing or feeling unsure about what is next. Having grit allows you the strength to move forward no matter how hard the fall. You will certainly have to go back to the times of reflection to help you yet again. In fact, making a practice of meditating, quiet reflection, writing or some other form self-discovery will help you be at peace in the toughest of times so that you can better see the path ahead.